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Cancer Research In San Diego At Risk

— Hours before ordering across-the-board federal budget cuts on Friday, President Barack Obama said sequestration was a loss for the American people. That's certainly true for cancer research funding, not only nationally, but here in San Diego.

Aired 3/5/13 on KPBS News.

Billions of dollars in cancer research funding could be lost to sequestration.

Dr. Kristiina Vouri, president of San Diego's Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, spoke to KPBS.

Q: The consequences of sequestration on cancer research have been described as "potentially devastating." Do you agree?

A: The reality remains that as sequestration continues and goes on, it's at a very unfortunate time where, indeed, researchers could potentially lose their jobs if funding is cut. What this means, in practice, is that discoveries made in the laboratories will not be made or some ongoing projects would need to be put on the shelf.

Q: Have there been any cuts or layoffs at any of the local national cancer centers?

A: Not to my knowledge, no. We'll be watching very carefully in the next few weeks as to whether the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institutes will issue how they're going to make those cuts.

Q: I don't know anyone who hasn't been touched by cancer, either by losing someone or knowing someone who has the disease. How can those folks up on Capitol Hill not come to some kind of agreement?

A: You would think that at some point in time a compromise could be reached. Indeed, cancer is certainly a disease that directly affects about half of the population. I would hope to see people on both sides of the aisle think about what is really important for the people in this country. And medical research, I would certainly argue, not only benefits human life, but also the economy.

Vouri is the first woman to head the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute.

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